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On Thursday morning Axios Co-founder & CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a virtual event to discuss leadership and the new normal of work with Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, and projections on the future of the workplace with Axios business reporter, Erica Pandey.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield focused on the role that leaders serve while in a crisis as well as the need for businesses to remain adaptable in times of change.

  • On the job of leaders: "Leaders remind people what's important...the tactics might be new, but the big job is to remind people what's important. Remind people what the purpose is. Remind people what the objectives are. Remind people about roles and responsibilities. It's really getting people to believe in something."
  • On prioritizing agility: "I think we're in a more dynamic environment...[At Slack] we talk about how increasing technological change can cause changes in consumer behavior...The fundamental challenge to any organization like companies, governments, NGOs, academic institutions is the creation of a kind of agility that allows them to be responsive to these changing conditions."

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg discussed leadership, and how prioritizing employees' needs is vital to the staggered return to the workplace.

  • How Verizon has responded to the crisis: "Since the start of the pandemic, we decided to keep America connected. That means that any residential customer, or small and medium business, that have problems with paying due to COVID-19 are not being disconnected. We are not charging them late fees...we will continue to do that to the end of this quarter."
  • On whether people will return to office spaces by the end of the year: "Ultimately, we're going to have a staggered way of coming back to work...We as an employer will do everything to see that we are making the [environment] safe for our employees to come back to the office...I think in 2021, we're going to see a new normal."

Axios business reporter Erica Pandey unpacked the necessity of remote work in a pandemic and the potential changes it will yield as things gradually reopen.

  • On the rapid shift to remote work during the pandemic: "Remote work has been a buzzword for a really long time. But before the pandemic, only about 4% of Americans were working remotely full time. And now if you're looking at the top 20% of earners, which is most white-collar office jobs, it's closer to 80% per a new Brookings [Institution] report."
  • On its lasting impact on work-life: "This is going to be difficult for workers where parents are taking care of relatives at home. But for some people, this is going to be a welcome change they're going to want. It's gonna be pretty sticky when this is all over and people are going to go to their managers and say, you know, 'I really like that. Can we keep doing that more?'"

Thank you Slack for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 5, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Small business recovery during the pandemic

On Wednesday August 5, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and "Axios Today" host Niala Boodhoo hosted the last of a six-event series on how small businesses have pivoted during the coronavirus outbreak, featuring Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), owner of The Curvy Bride Michelle Files and Satori Yoga studio owner Andrea Stern.

Sen. Lankford discussed the federal government's response to the pandemic, financial support for small businesses, and the importance of NGOs as economic safety nets within communities.

  • On the effectiveness of PPP loans: "The Paycheck Protection Program has had some problems, but overwhelmingly it's been very, very successful. Paycheck Protection Program was designed to keep small businesses and not-for-profits running so their people didn't have to end up on unemployment assistance...and it has done that."
  • How the coronavirus has changed the economies of small towns: A lot of small towns in Oklahoma have had their highest tax revenue they've ever had in the history of their towns this year...They're used to those folks in small towns driving to big cities to shop. But they're not. They're staying at home. They're shopping online."

Michelle Files and Andrea Stern highlighted the unique challenges of running a small business during the pandemic and how their respective businesses have pivoted to digital tools in these changing times.

  • Michelle Files on adapting her brick-and-mortar business to a virtual world: "Mobile appointments...really took off. People loved that they were still able to shop from the comfort of their own home. I would just bring the dresses to them and safely be on a Zoom call from my car with any questions that they would have."
  • Andrea Stern on transitioning to live, online yoga classes: "We decided that livestream was the best way to go...one of the nice parts about livestream is that [instructors] actually have people in front of them. You can get feedback from the students. It was just a matter of getting everyone up to speed on the technology."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council Karen Kerrigan, who discussed trends in how small businesses have adjusted to the new economy.

  • "[Small businesses] are massively moving to technology platforms. 51% said that they've upped their use of social media in order to engage with customers and find new customers. So they really embrace technology at this very critical time, which is helping them to survive the COVID-19 economy."

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.